An unusual attack has been spotted in the wild, using an unexpected combination of threats. This attack used exploit kits (in particular Java and PDF exploits) to deliver file infectors onto vulnerable systems. Interestingly, these file infectors have information theft routines, which is a behavior not usually found among file infectors.
These malware are part of PE_EXPIRO family, file infectors that was first spotted spotted in 2010. In addition to standard file infection routines, the variants seen in this attack also have information theft routines, an uncommon routine for file infectors.
The infection chain goes something like this:
- The user is lured to a malicious site which contains an exploit kit. Several exploits are used; one of these is a Java exploit (detected as JAVA_EXPLOIT.ZC) which uses CVE-2012-1723. Another Java vulnerability (CVE-2013-1493) is also being used. A PDF exploit is also being used, with the malicious PDF file detected as TROJ_PIDIEF.JXM.
- Whatever exploit is used, the end result is the same: the mother file infector (either PE_EXPIRO.JX-O, PE_EXPIRO.QW-O, or PE64-EXPIRO-O for 64-bit systems) onto the affected system.
- Once on the affected system, it seeks out .EXE files in the system to infect. All folders in all available drives (removable, shared, networked) are subjected to this search. The infected files are detected as PE_EXPIRO.JX.
- It steals system and user information, such as the Windows product ID, drive volume serial number, Windows version and user login credentials. It also steals stored FTP credentials from the Filezilla FTP client.
- The stolen information is then saved in a .DLL file and uploaded to various command-and-control (C&C) servers.
Here is a diagram of the above chain, using the Java exploit as an example:
About 70% of total infections are within the United States. It is possible that this attack was intended to steal information from organizations or to compromise websites, as the specific targeting of FTP credentials suggests either was possible.
The combination of threats used is highly unusual and suggests that this attack was not an off-the-shelf attack that used readily available cybercrime tools.
Author: Rhena Inocencio, Threat Response Engineer at Trend Micro.
Additional analysis by Dexter To, Kai Yu, and Jethro Bacani.